Tag Archives: clarification

Force Carbonated Paloma #1

I often, when developing my own recipes, go through many attempts to get one right. This is a new series on one I am working on. You’ll get to see them in progress as I try to achieve perfection.

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Let me put this out there right off the bat: I fucking love palomas. They’re among the simplest of cocktails (tequila and grapefruit soda with a lime) and the tastiest. They please serious cocktail lovers and your average 11 p.m. barfly equally. Women love them. Men love them. They’re the Tom Hanks of cocktails. I don’t know why there isn’t one on every cocktail menu.

So one of the things I’ve been meaning to do with my newfound modernist toolkit is make a bad-ass paloma. Clarification and carbonation skills are really about all you need, and both of those are quite simple in this case. Grapefruit is pretty easy to clarify for a citrus. (See my Gin and Juice post for instructions.) It’s also great for batching, especially in a carbonated drink, because it doesn’t degrade like other citrus fruits. I’ve stored a gin and grapefruit juice with it for a week and it was perfectly fine. Dave Arnold says it even freezes well.

Making the soda myself should yield a much higher quality drink than simply buying Fresca, Jarritos, or what have you. While not bad, even the best commercial brands still don’t taste quite like fresh grapefruit. You also can’t really mix the ingredients without flattening the carbonation a bit, and most store-bought beverages aren’t bubbly enough for my taste to begin with. Using modernist techniques I should be able to get a bubblier, better tasting drink than anything you can get otherwise.

The process was pretty straightforward. I had some agar-clarified grapefruit juice leftover from my holiday party gin and juice. So I took a shot at my own paloma.

I wanted to try out acid phosphate, and I’m glad I did. I love this stuff! It adds a little brightness without the bitterness inherent to acids like lime and lemon. I might try mixing in a tiny amount of malic acid next time.

Here’s the first take on the recipe.

Paloma #1

12 oz. agar-clarified grapefruit juice

2 oz. agave nectar

4 oz. Tequila (I used Olmecca Altos Reposado)

6 oz. water

1 oz. Aperol

1 dropper saline solution

12 drops acid phosphate

Mix, chill, carbonate, serve in Collins glass with lime wedge and straw. Makes about 4 glasses. (I expected two but wasn’t accounting for how much ice is in a Collins glass).


1. Might want to add a little clarified lime juice next time. This is one of the hardest things to do at home, since quick agar clarification without a centrifuge is a huge pain in the ass. I need to invest in a salad spinner anyway, since I want to do every Liquid Intelligence recipe for this blog and that’s one of them. I’m not sure it’s necessary; the acid phosphate is quite good at providing a little more tartness to the grapefruit juice. But it’d be good to try. Just having the drinker squeeze the wedge in worked fine though.

2. Might want to use a Blanco tequila next time. (Or maybe chitosan/gellan wash the Reposado? Would that give you a better flavor with a clearer color?) The initial coloration was an unappealing brown since the grapefruit juice is nearly clear. I added the Aperol for both color and flavor (I love the way it pairs with grapefruit) and I love the flavor, but the color is still not quite there. May have to swap out the agave nectar for fructose for the same reason. I’m not sure I would have felt the need to add the Aperol if I had used a Blanco, but I’m glad I did and will probably keep it.

3. I need to get a better measurement system for the acid phosphate. I think I should scale it. I love what it did for the flavor for sure. But the drops that come out of the bottle seem widely variable. My guess is this is about 1/4 oz. in this one. I’ll do better on that score next time. ChefSteps recommends 0.05%-0.1% phosphoric acid (not exactly the same as acid phosphate, but close) so I’ll try that. I also might dial it up just a notch if I don’t add clari-lime. Before the lime wedge went in, the drink wasn’t quite balanced, though maybe I should just allow for the fact that the drinker is likely to squeeze in a lime regardless.

4. It tasted good, but needed more tequila. I think next time I’ll just omit the water. Carbonated drinks always taste overly-diluted before you bubble it, but I think I had done some math wrong. I was aiming for 15% ABV and ended up at 6%.

Next time I’ll try

8 oz tequila

12 oz clarified grapefruit

1 oz Aperol

2 oz Agave nectar

Clarified Gin and Juice

This is part of my series of recipes from Liquid Intelligence. I’m going to make all of them, which you can see here.

One of Dave Arnold’s recipes I’ve been making for awhile is the Gin and Juice. I was able to find videos of it on the web, and piece together the process from his podcast. But there’s a recipe for it in Liquid Intelligence so I thought I’d make it for my family Christmas party. Apologies in advance for my worse-than-usual photography, but I was batching two cocktails and getting ready for a party.

This recipe isn’t particularly difficult, and is a great introduction to clarification. You can do it a few ways. If you don’t care about yield and just want a fast, easy product, you can use Pectinex/Chitosan/Keiselsol clarification (more on that later) and just wait a few hours for the solids to separate. Your yield is relatively low though without a centrifuge, on the order of 50-75%.

If you don’t mind waiting a bit longer, agar clarification is the way to go. That’s what Dave recommends, so for this post that’s what I did. It’s not that much more labor than the Pectinex/fining I mentioned, and the yield is much higher. I think I got over 90%. You’ll see my picture of the solids raft left at the end, that was all that didn’t make it, and some of that was agar.

Here’s the process:

Step 1: Juice the grapefruit.

I can’t remember how many I used, but it was most of a bag from Sam’s Club. (Sorry, I’m in Akron, we don’t have Costco yet.) I ended up with about a liter and a half.

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Step 2: Hydrate the agar

Divide the grapefruit, 75% in one batch (assuming it’s room temperature) that you’ll set aside, and 25% in another, that you’ll put into a pan. In my case,  I set 1.1 liters aside, and put 400 liters in the pan.

Measure out agar to 2g per liter, so in this case I used 3g. (I use Telephone brand packets. I ran out of this packet and had to go to the Asian market, all for 0.4 grams!)

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Whisk it vigorously into the small portion of juice. Place the pan on the stove, turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil, whisking frequently.

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When it boils, put a lid on the pan, drop the heat, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Step 3: Temper the juice and set.

Pour the room temperature juice into the hot stuff, stirring vigorously. You want to avoid the mix gelling at all, which might happen if you did it the other way around, or didn’t boil enough of the juice.

Pour into a bowl and set over an ice bath to chill. Don’t agitate it at all. No stirring. Just wait for it to gel all the way through.

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Step 4: Freeze

Place the bowl into the freezer, and let sit overnight.

Step 5: Thaw

Place the frozen brick of agar in a strainer and let the liquid drip through. It starts off like this:


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and ends like this:

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Step 6: Filter

I ran what was left of the juice through a Chemex to suck up a little bit of particulate matter that got through.

Step 7: Mix ingredients and chill

I mixed up enough of Dave’s recipe to make about 1.65 liters, since I was carbonating in a 2 liter bottle. That worked out to a batch of ten. The recipe is:

590ml gin

800ml agar-clarified grapefruit juice

220ml water

40ml simple syrup

20 drops saline solution

I funneled them all into a 2 liter bottle, and put the bottle in the freezer. I shook it every 15 minutes or so, so it would chill evenly, and had to be careful to pull it out before it froze (the ABV is low enough that I think it would).

When it was ice cold, I carbonated with my homebrew rig.

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Step 8: Play Snoop Dogg on radio and pour into champagne flute

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Make sure to have your mind on your money, and your money on your mind.